The Brother of a Gay Man Says, “It’s Important”

“I don’t care if you’re gay.” It's Important

I’ve made that statement (or some variant of it) many times. It is meant to convey that I’m a safe person, that I’m above labels, that I’m open minded.

Here’s the thing: It’s not true.

I DO care if you’re gay. I care because, if I’m interacting with you, I want to know something about you. Your orientation is a pretty important piece of who you are, and I want to know that.

If you’re gay, it has probably had a big influence on your life; how you’ve navigated different situations, how you’ve maybe felt unsafe at times, how you might have had trouble trusting people. Whether you fit into an established stereotype, or can pass as easily as Ian McKellen, being gay has colored your experience, and I want to know that.

And there’s another thing, something I’m not as proud of. Although I’ve been a staunch LGBT ally for over 20 years, I still have some old habits of mind and language that have not disappeared as completely as I would like. Ideally, it shouldn’t matter who I’m around, I should always speak and think in ways that don’t denigrate or hurt anyone. Turns out, I’m imperfect, and I still sometimes think or (YIKES) say things that aren’t 100% respectful of all people.

So, I want to know if you’re gay. If I know that, my internal watcher is on guard, making sure that I don’t fall into some habit from my early teens that could ruin someone’s day. In reality, I almost never go there anymore. But knowing you’re gay reminds me to watch anyway, and if I’m reminded to watch, I’m going to learn more about you and more about myself than if I’m not watching. Maybe by the time our interaction is complete, I’ll be a slightly better person. I suppose that makes it a selfish motivation, alas.

I want to know if you’re gay. I care if you’re gay. My gaydar is Straight Dude version 1.0, and it’s pretty weak. So please, let me know. Loud and proud. I will stand by your side, I’ll smack down the trolls with you.

It’s part of who you are. It’s important.

About allydavidstevens

Husband. Father. Son. Brother. Uncle. Nurse. Aspiring Kung Fu Fighter.
This entry was posted in Civil Rights, Family, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Brother of a Gay Man Says, “It’s Important”

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  4. Julio says:


    It bugs the fuck out of me when someone is trying to be supportive by saying, “I don’t care about gay or straight.” or “Why do we still care about this?”

    It’s sort of how white people (of which I am one) will say, “I don’t see race,” or “I don’t care what race you are” as a way of supporting people of color.

    No, it actually really matters. How you are born and how you identify colors your whole life experience. Don’t ignore our differences–embrace them and love them.

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  9. Kevin says:

    For a straight dude, your gaydar is sharp and I think you do very well, dare I say, better than a lot of straight dudes. I don’t mind letting you know that for the most part, my partner and I actually have very few real gay friends. For me, the biggest jolt comes from hanging out with the few str8 male friends I/we have that truly are as unaffected as you seem to be. I can just be “me ” with them . I’m free to speak my own emotional language with them. They get it and they don’t blink. This is a great blessing. I’m steadily growing to enjoy reading your posts on this website. Keep writing.

    Kevin Dyier,
    Clinton, Massachusetts

  10. Mike says:

    David, I just watched the youtube video and was deeply touched! I’m a 38 year old gay man who lives in Texas and I have dealt with loneliness, pain, rejection, and many of the other things that gay people go through. In fact I still deal with it every day. Being single and not having any close friends makes it really hard some days but somehow I keep pulling through. Anyway I just wanted to say that your a wonderful person and thank you very much for such a beautiful message and God Bless You!!

    • allydavidstevens says:

      Hey Mike,

      Thank you for your note. I am sorry that you are finding yourself isolated where you are. I’ve got some cool friends in Texas (Houston, Austin, San Antonio), so know that there is hope. In the meantime and for what it is worth, I’d be honored to be your FB friend. You can find me here:

      Take care,

  11. hombrealsur says:

    Awsome, man! I’ve lost my brother and father nowadays, after years of fighting against a reality that for sure couldn’t be changed. They SEEMED to accept me, but once my bro got married everything started running down the hill… and then I’ve lost my job, my house, and everything in between. I’m past my 40’s now, re-building my life with a wonderful partner, and sure to say that I’d have LOVED to have a brother like you in my life. Thus, my congratulations and warmest hug for a wonderful human being as you are, standing by your brother and giving him the pride and joy he, you, and life deserves.
    A brotherly hug, for you’ve gained a place in my heart, and soothed my soul with your words.
    Thank you so much!

  12. Kathleen O'Neill says:

    I know what you mean about struggling for the words to express the exact situation.

    When my son was 16 and told people his parents didn’t care that he was gay, that netted him awe and envy from friends, especially friends who were gay, and either not able to tell their parents, or still dealing with the fallout.

    I would sometimes meet gay kids who would be incredulous to hear that not only did I know my son was gay, but I was saying it out loud, and didn’t have a problem with it.. I couldn’t believe this was such an issue–we don’t live in the Bible belt, or the middle of nowhere, we’re in the NY metro area).

    I would say that it wasn’t as though he were something disgraceful, like a serial killer, or a religious fundamentalist, or even God forbid, a Republican. At that time, the Republican comment was kind of a joke, now not so much.

    But I’ve heard reactions to kids coming out, anywhere from tolerance, to “they know it, but we don’t talk about it,” to “well okay, but don’t tell anyone,” to saying you loved them, so you accepted them without conditions. But saying it with an expression usually seen on crucifixes.

    It would have sounded ridiculous for him to make any coming out speech (he didn’t) but if he had, and a response had been required, it would have been either “ya think?” or “it’s about time, now I can start writing my inspirational, soul stirring book about coming to terms with your sexuality.”
    He’d know I was lying if I used the book comment; I’ve never even successfully sent in a rebate form, which requires considerably less dedication and organization.

    So anyway, I don’t really like “accept” as a word all that much either.

    Some people who want to go all out the other way will say they “celebrate” it. But I don’t feel comfortable with that either, because there aren’t that many choices when it comes to sexuality, so I don’t “celebrate” any of them, any more than I celebrate his eye color or hair color (except when he went back to the salon and had them redo his Little Mermaid red dye job. Then I celebrated, that was dreadful)

    One kid said to me that I was probably glad that my son was gay, since I seemed very interested in all things gay. But I wouldn’t go that far, because I’m from a generation of people that often hid, lied, and sometimes died because of being gay. So that wasn’t something I wanted for him. But once I realized that he had none of that angst, and was quite happy with himself (delighted in fact), then I was happy as well. Although I know I’m using a stereotype, I thought that his being gay would make it less likely that I’d have to pretend to be a soccer mom, or any other sport for that matter. And stereotype or not, that’s how it turned out.

    So once that was out of the way, and I knew he wasn’t scarred or traumatized, now I just say that it turned out to be pretty handy, since I had so many books, magazines and movies on the subject. It was something to hand down to him, since the electric bill for keeping the lights bright on Broadway would kind of put a dent in any trust fund we had (we didn’t anyway, but it’s a good excuse)..

    It’s pretty handy may sound strange, but it;s closer than any of the more customary options.

    And the second thing you mentioned, about saying things that didn’t always sound PC, that’s one of the inherent pitfalls with being extremely comfortable in a culture or group to which you don’t belong. To the people who know you, you couldn’t say anything that they’d consider offensive, because they know you’re one of them. To an outsider, though, it might sound different, whether or not the outsider was a member of the group.

    I was once giving a speech for a class, and something I said garnered a comment about my indulging in stereotypes. Maybe I said something about my son not being the neat freak I’d been expecting; instead of organizing his closet by colors, the categories would need to be Animal, Vegetable or Mineral. Whatever it was, the rest of the class thought it was funny (as did all of the gay kids who read the speech later). I nearly fell on the floor, that was the first time I’d ever been criticized for such a thing. I’m still trying to decide whether my words could really have been considered offensive, or whether he just had no sense of humor.

    I think the latter. But maybe we need to get cards that we could flash at the appropriate time, that contained little disclaimers. Mine might say, “Please know that unless I am talking about serial killers, religious fundamentalists or Republicans, I do not mean to offend either the groups, or anyone listening to me.”

    Please watch and listen before you jump, and don’t take offense where none is meant. There are enough occasions when it is meant, so why alienate the people on your side?”

  13. Darrel says:

    You are absolutely one of the best brother there is in the world! Your brother is totally lucky to have you as a brother. Heck, not only that, from your words, I can tell that you must be really awesome as a friend, son, partner, neighbour co-worker etc, too!

    I have three brothers, and my third brother who is closest to me, is also an awesome brother like you. He has accepted me and my boyfriend completely, lovingly and enthusiastically. Every time I think of him, my heart is full and full of thanks, because I know my brother is there looking out for me. Your brother must have fee the same too.

    Thank you. ♥

  14. robw77 says:

    This was written by our David Stevens. 🙂

  15. apeene says:

    Who wrote that? It was great! AP

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